IDEA: Formalizing the Foundation for an Engineering Design Education

Ann F. McKenna, J. Edward Colgate, Stephen H. Carr, and Gregory B. Olson
Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA

At Northwestern University we have recently created the Institute for Design Engineering and Applications (IDEA) within the McCormick School of Engineering. Through IDEA students can obtain a certificate in engineering design alongside their bachelor’s degree in their engineering discipline. IDEA was formed with the goal of integrating interdisciplinary design throughout the engineering curriculum, and creating a design community to support innovation. In this paper we discuss the design principles, community-based practices, and central education components of the IDEA certificate program. In addition, we discuss our process for monitoring students’ design understanding and performance and how we continue to evolve our design courses based on this data, as well as ongoing feedback from members of the IDEA community.


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